I love to eat and experiment with many different foods, and lately, my favourite pastime is the precious aroma and scents of spices in my kitchen. I don’t even know where the love of cooking came from; a few years ago, it was so much easier to sleep hungry than go into the kitchen and cook up a meal–or even a snack! But how things have changed… With my newfound love of everything food, it goes without saying that kitchen gadgets go hand-in-hand with my activities.
So, after reading so many reviews and searching all over the internet on various recipes I could try out, I decided it was time to get an electric pressure cooker. Never mind that a few years ago someone gifted me the manual pressure cooker, and because of a real fear of accidents—I had read too many stories of accidental burns and damages to houses due to poor mishandling of pressure cookers—I kept it in a box in my store and never used it. I eventually gave it out, amid so much guilt.
Now, here I was, shopping for the new and improved pressure cooker. And there were so many to choose from, all of them with different additional functions and varying in price range. Mr A. was against buying ‘yet another kitchen gadget’ but I was all for it. And after so much show-and-tell and haggling at various shops, I settled for one. The most exciting part–it had a function for baking. Yes, baking. Since I did not have an oven, this was going to be an upgrade of sorts. It wouldn’t be as useless to me as the rice cooker I no longer used because I was not satisfied with how it cooked, or the pressure cooker I had to gift to someone, or the bread toaster, sandwich toaster, chapati maker, doughnut maker, coffee grinder, juicer and food processor that crowd my kitchen.
Before my purchase, my sister reminded me of the expensive microwave I had bought because it had a grill function but could never get that to work, but I decided that this improved pressure cooker was going to be quite useful.
So, I arrived in the house excited, read through the information booklet and decided to test the gadget. I put my beans in and waited for the recommended time. Lo and behold, the beans were still not well cooked at the centre and I had to add more minutes for it to cook. I noted that down for the next time. Second time around, I set the timer and didn’t remember that I was using a different type of beans. And that is how I made bean porridge for supper. And yes, people had to eat it. There was no way I was throwing away food.
‘Hmmm, these gadgets will not keep showing me things,’ I thought to myself.
So, I kept at it, with small portions of different types of beans until I finally got it right.
One weekend, my little people decided they wanted chocolate cake, and I said “why not?” I usually bake it unconventionally on a gas cooker or jiko, but this time I decided to test the bake function of my beautiful new gadget.
So I carefully prepared chocolate cake barter, re-read the information booklet, then placed my cake barter in and set the timer. A few minutes later, the chocolatey aroma wafted into the living room and filled the whole house. To say there was excitement in the air is an understatement. The little people kept running in and out of the kitchen, asking if it was ready. I had to send them out to play. When the timer went off, I excitedly opened the lid and saw a beautiful brown cake. But when I inserted a fork into the centre, it came back out with a bit of uncooked barter. Now, where did I go wrong? I sighed and closed the lid, adding more time. And this time, it seemed to work as the fork came out clean. I then removed the tin from the cooker, placed it on a rack to cool, and impatiently waited. Finally, I cut a piece to taste and the ugali-like consistency just told me I was in for a shocker. I knew this wouldn’t cut it. The other time I had baked such a cake, the little people were disappointed and did not eat it. I know they were expecting a chocolate cake and had announced it to all the neighbours, and I couldn’t imagine how disappointed they would be. So I called my baker for an emergency cake and, luckily, she did not have many orders that day. However, it would take some time as she did not have any baked chocolate cake.
The little people came in and asked for the cake, but I said it was still baking. They then ate a snack and went out to play, all the while telling their friends that I was baking them a hot and tasty chocolate cake. When Anne said the cake was ready, I took a shopping basket and ran down to the bakery, all the while looking right and left to ensure no little people saw me leave. I half walked half ran back to the house, panicking and sweating and hoping the little people didn’t see what I was up to.
When I was ready, I called them in with their friends, and they were so excited and happy, thanking me for the tasty cake. And just like that, Anne saved the day and I got the praise, and saved face too. That is until my clever nephew took me aside and, smiling cunningly, asked if I had really baked the cake since it tasted different…well, let’s just say he is a few hundred shillings richer and my secret is safe. As for the fancy pressure cooker, it has a fully paid for vacation in my pantry. And I doubt I’ll be buying another gadget soon. I’ve even put on hold plans for an airfryer or halogen oven, and Mr A seems quite happy about that. But, we'll see...
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